There is no food seemingly more American than barbecue. Originating with the Taino, a native people of the Caribbean islands, this practice of cooking meat over an open flame spread to North America and has become popular in the United States and internationally. Although a plethora of restaurants claim that they serve the best barbecue in America, there are a few BBQ eateries that stand out from the crowd.
Memphis is world-renowned for its blues and barbecue, and when it comes to BBQ, there is no name more revered than Leonard’s Pit Barbecue, which opened as a simple, five-stool lunch counter in 1922 and continues serving up succulent favorites more than ninety years later. Leonard’s was a favorite of Elvis Presley and his friends, who spent many late nights devouring delicious barbecued fare. In addition to the slow-roasted pork shoulder that has become its signature item, Leonard’s offers chicken, beef brisket, and even pit-smoked bologna. Surprisingly enough, Leonard’s serves Italian fare such as spaghetti and meat-filled ravioli. Customers can easily order ribs and ravioli at the same time, or spaghetti and BBQ pork.
Founded in 1930, Arthur Bryant’s BBQ has been a Kansas City institution for decades. The main attraction at Arthur Bryant’s is the signature sauce, which coats everything from pork ribs to beef brisket and slow-roasted chicken. Customers craving more than one meat at a time can order a sandwich combining two of Bryant’s carnivorous delights, including pork, beef, chicken, and sausage, for $10.55. Auto racing fans will be delighted to know that there is a second Arthur Bryant’s restaurant, Legends BBQ, located just outside the gates at the Kansas Speedway.
Without a doubt, Texas is home to some of the best barbecue in the nation. Located not far from Austin in the Hill Country town of Taylor, Louie Mueller Barbecue has served up some of the most mouthwatering BBQ in the Lone Star State since 1949. As any Texan should know, beef is the signature meat at Louie Mueller’s, including brisket and monstrous ribs, colloquially known as “Dino-Ribs”, that are guaranteed to satisfy a T. Rex of an appetite. Even the baked potatoes can be topped with a layer of succulent, savory chopped beef. For dessert, the homestyle peach cobbler is a must-have.
Although Fairfield, Connecticut may not be the first place that comes to mind for those craving great barbecue, Wilson’s Holy Smoke BBQ offers mouthwatering Memphis-style and sublime St. Louis-style ribs, along with sandwiches, salad plates, wings, and definitely delicious desserts. This restaurant, which was featured on the hit Food Network TV show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, also offers customized catering packages. Wilson’s is open year-round, albeit only four days each week, from Thursday through Sunday.
With the surging popularity of various Asian cuisines throughout the United States, a different kind of barbecue has become increasingly popular across the country. Korean-style barbecue, in contrast to its low-and-slow, all-American counterpart, places greater emphasis on high heat, a wider variety of meats, and exotic flavors. Hae Jang Chon, located in the heart of Los Angeles’s Koreatown district, not only offers specialties such as beef bulgogi, chicken, and pork, but such delicacies as barbecue squid. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Hae Jang Chon is the perfect place to satisfy a late-night Korean BBQ craving.